Jaime Garcia is experiencing shoulder discomfort, which will cause him to miss at least one spring-training start, according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. Marco Gonzales will start for the Cardinals in Sunday's exhibition instead of Garcia. At present, it's unclear what this means for Garcia after Sunday.
This news is not particularly surprising.
The shoulder is perhaps the most complex of a human's joints. Garcia has had his opened up on multiple occasions. He's had his rotator cuff debrided and his labrum stitched. As if that wasn't enough, doctors went in last year and performed a thoracic outlet release procedure, which involves clearing a wider path for his nerves and blood vessels on the underside of his shoulder. Any one of these procedures can end a pitcher's career. Combine them all within a two-year timeframe and it's no wonder the St. Louis Cardinals weren't counting on Garcia at all when hatching their 2015 pitching staff plan.
Garcia reported to camp, competing for a job even though he wasn't even in the offseason conversation when it came to the rotation. But the lefty pitched with his trademark wiffle-ball movement and then showed the command he developed between 2010 and 2011. Garcia looked like Garcia. He shouldered and elbowed his way ahead of Carlos Martinez and Gonzales in the No. 5 starter derby—as well he should have while healthy and pitching effectively.
Garcia's reemergence caused Nick to wonder here just yesterday what Martinez's role might be on the 2015 Cardinals. The options Nick settled on were the major-league bullpen or the Triple-A rotation. It was a compliment to the Cards' pitching depth that Martinez might join Gonzales in Memphis.
As happens so often it's become a cliché, the rotation log jam appears to be working itself out. The most recent Garcia news appears to make a St. Louis rotation spot once again within Martinez's grasp even if Gonzales will fill in for Garcia on Sunday. From St. Louis Post-Dispatch beat writer Derrick Goold on Twitter:
Jaime Garcia had some discomfort in shoulder area. Details not immediately available. Had to "hit the brakes" on his prep, Matheny says.— Derrick Goold (@dgoold) March 28, 2015
Of course, one hits the brakes frequently while driving. While hitting the brakes is a more emphatic driving maneuver than tapping them, doing so does not necessarily mean coming to a complete stop. We'll see if Garcia halts for continues moving forward.
Even if Garcia is able to throw after this latest setback, the brake-hitting may very well be enough to cause the Cards to opt for Martinez or Gonzales in the rotation over Garcia. The setback seems likely to push Garcia out of the St. Louis rotation on opening day and into the minors for a rehab stint, so that he can ramp back up to full speed and establish he is physically capable of shouldering a starter's workload every fifth day.
Now we do what we've so often done with respect to Garcia: Wait and see.